“Do everything without complaining and grumbling, so that you might become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander…Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Philippians 2:14-15, Ephesians 4:29, 31-32.
I know, I know…the Scriptural Basis is longer than usual. But hey, it only takes a few seconds to read, and nothing else will impact your day so positively if you do it! I think you’ll agree, while simultaneously thinking it isn’t very realistic. Given what most of our lives are like; the pressures we live under, our aches and pains, the problems we wrestle, the challenges we face, et cetera, et cetera; it is not a common behavior. So much is it NOT, it jumps out at us when we encounter it.
Do you actually know very many, or anyone, whose life consistently models these verses? It’s rare, isn’t it? In fact, when you do encounter such a person it gets your attention and you tell others about it. It may even trigger a change in your behavior. If only we could keep it up through the next bad day, and the next, and on and on. Indeed, you begin to wonder if that person’s life just isn’t quite as bad as yours. We look for excuses as to why we do not maintain such a spirit of attitude, character, and words. We compare ourselves and our circumstances with them and others. Nevertheless, how revealing and surprising it is to us to find their life is as fraught with challenges as ours, maybe even doubly so. How in the midst of severe difficulties can they speak so kindly, smile so frequently, deflect criticism or meanness so gently, and bring such delight and zest for living to the surface in every contact? In all of this they lovingly, but firmly maintain what they believe and effectively communicate it to others. With frustration, weariness, pain or sickness, failure or injustice, typical provocations to anger, how do they do it? Are they superhuman, we wonder? Or is it just that they are more cognizant of the One who inspires them and makes it possible?
Last week we lost such a person for a time. He will not suffer the aches and pains of old age. He died at the age of 53. But if he had lived longer and experienced all that accompanies those latter years, I dare say he would have done so with the same grace, noticeable joy and sweet spirit that characterized his years before his painful sickness and death from cancer. You might think I am speaking about a seasoned and mature Christian. But I am not. Tony Snow was from accounts I have heard a young Christian. Yet he took his introduction to Jesus Christ seriously, and displayed it publicly as well as privately. He was in love with life and work and with the Lord of life. He loved his family and he loved the family of man. He anticipated heaven with the joy he anticipated life. He experienced the gauntlet of mean spiritedness in a sinful world; like being a press secretary for a President hated and maligned, or living and working in the public eye in a tough and critical profession. He drew respect from enemies and deflected vicious arrows with aplomb and grace. He did not complain or grumble about his terminal cancer, uncomfortable treatments, or the “race laid out for him. He set an example for those of us who have been Christians much longer.
Possibly Tony’s spirit will encourage your personal application of the above Scripture as it does mine. Your situation, whatever it is, is never a valid excuse to ignore keeping your eyes on Jesus, while in turn reflecting His character and demeanor in your own face, attitude, words, and spirit.
“Heavenly Father, since You have identified with me, may my words, my face, my heart, and the joy of my spirit, make it unmistakable Whose I am.
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